- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
On June 22, 2011, we kicked off the 2011 Millennial Donor Summit (MDS11) — conducted exclusively online. A collaborative effort between Achieve, Johnson Grossnickle and Associates (JGA), and the Case Foundation, the virtual summit brought together more than 1,000 participants to spotlight the unique characteristics of the rising generation and help nonprofit executives attract and engage Millennials in their work.
This is the second in a four-part blog series which will culminate with the release of a white paper on further details of our experiences and lessons learned.
Now that you understand the basics — or at least have a lay of the land from our first post in this series, it's time to spread the word and let others know you’re hosting an online event. Typically, booking travel and registering for a conference go hand in hand. However, since participants are able to tune in from the comfort of their offices, there is no need to book travel in advance to cut costs, which means participants are also not so quick to register for the conference in advance. To build some early excitement and begin attracting an audience, we deployed a few different tactics to encourage participation.
1. Create a “Blogging Team”: Identify a core group of inﬂuential bloggers whom are interested in the topic and have wide readership. We invited several prominent bloggers (Katya Andresen, Beth Kanter, Kivi Miller, Amy Sample Ward, and Nathan Hand) in our space to form a special “MDS11 blogging team,” and offered each of them tickets to give to their readers through social media contests in the weeks leading up to the Summit. We also were able to utilize the SocialCitizens.org platform and the MillennialDonors.com site as a central repository for guest blog posts on related subjects, resource lists, Twitter feeds, exclusive video interviews, and more.
2. Identify anchor partners and provide discounts to their networks. In exchange for spreading the word, we offered our partners discount codes for their members if they registered by a certain date, and we partnered with groups such as Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), the HandsOn Network, and the Council On Foundations (COF) to promote the conference. This technique offered a special benefit to our partners and provided much needed awareness and publicity for the event to new markets.
3. Partner with a media outlet and ﬁnd creative ways to leverage their audience and reach. We were able to secure a partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy, who highlighted the conference in its publication. In addition, MDS11 organizers worked with the media outlet to host an online chat the week before with two of our speakers. This was another way to build onto the conversation and create “buzz” among our target audience on and offline.
4. Keep it social. Our promotion included a strong presence on both Twitter and Facebook. We made sure to integrate interesting questions, we created a formal #MDS11 hashtag, and we even setup a Facebook poll related to the survey to draw in an audience for the virtual conference. We’ll share more on these strategies when we release our full report next month.
Beyond the social media elements, we also used more traditional communication techniques, including through our Case Foundation newsletter and website banners. We planned ahead and built a media strategy that encouraged various media outlets to cover the conference by offering exclusive interviews with speakers, free media registration to the conference, and embargoed information.
At the end of the day, it was all about leveraging existing relationships to spread the word, and we think it paid off, as we generated about 1,000 participants representing more than 100 different institutions.
If you missed the first post of the series, A Virtual Convening — the Basics, you can still read it on the Case Foundation blog. Also, check back next week for Part 3 of the series where we will highlight how to prepare speakers and attendees for your virtual event.